When Maya Wilkins’ storm coverage was published in her hometown newspaper, she texted her mom, dad and grandpa right away.
“I’m from Fort Wayne, so I grew up reading The Journal Gazette and I grew up wanting to work for The Journal Gazette. It was one of the best moments for me,” Wilkins said. “It was on the front page of the paper and it was above the fold, too. And that just made me so happy.”
The Ball State senior has served in editor and reporter positions at her school’s newspaper, the Ball State Daily News, and is one of nine college students participating in the 2022 Eugene S. Pulliam Internship Program.
Each year, students from across the state are matched with papers by the HSPA Foundation for a 10-week, paid opportunity through the program named in honor of the late publisher of The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News.
The interns receive hands-on training with editors in their respective newsrooms. The participating newspapers get a helping hand for several months from eager, young reporters.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to have an extra reporting staff member in the summer when often full-time, regular reporters tend to take a little more vacation,” said Lisa Green, managing editor at The Journal Gazette.
“I love newspapers. I love the newsroom experience, especially after working for The Journal Gazette.”
— Maya Wilkins, Ball State University
Green said it’s important to offer students a variety of opportunities writing stories for different desks along with encouragement and detailed and constructive feedback. “I am always pretty vested in making sure that the internship is not just seen as something that benefits us but that there’s a benefit to the intern,” Green said.
The Foundation also provides a mentor to assist students with their work during the summer. Mary Dieter is serving as the mentor for this year’s Pulliam class. Dieter has been writing stories herself for more than 40 years, 20 of those with the Louisville Courier-Journal. She serves as DePauw University’s editorial director and director of media relations and edits the school’s alumni publication, DePauw Magazine.
As a reporter, Dieter said she would regularly visit schools to speak with students looking toward careers in journalism. “I’ve always enjoyed working with young people,” Dieter said.
Dieter meets with the intern group via Zoom to touch base and give them an opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences. Dieter said she is available to consult with them individually as they work through their stories and she encourages them to develop into strong, confident, accurate reporters.
Dieter said she always tells students it’s important to work at their college news organizations. But getting into other newsrooms is also vital to their development.
“I think internships are absolutely imperative to learn the ropes,” Dieter said. “It’s really great experience for these students to work under a professional editor.”
“This is literally my life’s blood and passion.”
— Olivia Tucker, Vincennes University
Olivia Tucker is also spending her summer working at a newspaper covering the area where she grew up. The college senior is the first Pulliam intern to work at The Crothersville Times and the first from Vincennes University where she has worked on The Trailblazer. Tucker has an associate’s degree in journalism from Vincennes and is finishing another in graphic design with a photography concentration.
“This is literally my life’s blood and passion,” Tucker said. “So, anything I can do in journalism and get my hands on, I’ve always been a jack of all trades.” Tucker said being a versatile journalist has made her a good fit at The Times where she does writing and photography. Knowing the area is important, too. “I didn’t have to learn the lay of the land, I already knew it,” Tucker said.
“This is something all new to me because for 40 years, I’ve been a one-man office,” said Curt Kovener, publisher and editor of The Times. “So, having someone to do some additional stories is a good deal for me.”
Kovener said when Tucker finishes her degree this December, she’ll have a job waiting at his newspaper. “She really wants to get into this business and wants to work in her home county. I’m very pleased to hear that,” Kovener said.
Dieter said she hopes the interns will take away an appreciation for the task at hand of serving their communities, the importance of getting things right and working hard. She said she also hopes they come away with great enthusiasm — something that is already happening.
“I love newspapers,” Wilkins said. “I love the newsroom experience, especially after working for The Journal Gazette.”
Interested in having an intern at your Indiana newspaper during the summer of 2023? Applications will be available later this fall. For info, contact Shawn Goldsby, firstname.lastname@example.org.